Mikel starts with a draw, but lots of positives on show

by & filed under News Review.

The Mikel Arteta era started with a 1-1 draw away from home. The 1 point wasn’t ideal, but I think most fans felt very good about what they saw. It was a first step, but for 5 days work, it’s hard to argue there wasn’t progress on the basics.

We conceded a customary goal, looked shaky at the back on occasions, but the team showed far more fight than they have in a long time. We pressed, the boys looked hungry for the ball, they actually turned up for an away game. I enjoyed myself, which felt weird.

Arteta was fairly happy.

“I’m very pleased with some of the things I’ve seen in terms of attitude, character and the passion we showed, and the fight and the spirit the team showed. Spot on, and probably better than I expected over 90 minutes,” Arteta said. “A lot of things that happened in the game [that] we prepared and I think they [the players] understood them and they tried to take them on board and we liked the final product at the end.

“I did not know how long the players would last at that rhythm with the demands I made of them but the attitude was spot on. There are no negotiables at this club, there are standards that have to be done at this club and they held them.”

Outside the simple basics like effort, we also controlled possession like we used to. Our movement going forward had more purpose to it. We only landed 2 shots on target all game, but we had 17 attempts. I think our poor efforts in front of goal were more down to rusty players, youth, and a lack of confidence over anything else. Our chances were in good places on the pitch, and on another day, we’d have scored 4. I’m still having nightmares about Willock at the end. Just blame the rain and too much vegan turkey.

Our delivery was also really bad, even for us. Saka and AMN are not even full-backs, so to be expecting them to deliver like Liverpool was always a big ask. Had we started Hector and Kola, it might have been different. I also thought we missed the power, drive and confidence of an on form Martinelli.

There were a lot of people grumbling about Pepe not starting. For me, if the Ivorian record signing has been ignored by 3 managers all under huge amounts of pressure, I would suspect he probably trains very badly. If you’re not putting the effort in under Arteta, it’s clear he won’t play you. That said, Nelson is way off the pace. He looked a bit more confident than he usually does but his decision making was woeful and his delivery is nowhere near where it should be considering he went out on loan last season.

I also thought Lacazette was off the pace. He made lots of incorrect decisions and his timing was well off, that one-on-one he blew was nailed on in 2016… but he’s been Emeryfied and it’ll take some time to shake that off.

Things I liked…

Arteta managed to get a performance out of Mesut and he talked about it to the press.

 “He worked and could have been the difference; we could have scored three or four goals from his balls through,”

“To be fair his attitude in training since the day I walked into the building has been incredible. I said I was going to give a clean slate to everybody and I went to give it to him.

The German was instrumental playing between the lines. His quick passing and clever movement off the ball was a real nuisance. I liked that when he was subbed off you could see his face was blotchy from all the effort. He might not be the #10 of the future, but if we can get him firing, he’d be very helpful to our end of season run… and yes, I am aware Bournemouth are very good to players like Mesut.

Full backs tucking in, a City special, was on show yesterday. It seemed to give our defenders more options as they moved forward and made us a bit more resolute when being countered.

I also thought Torreira had a really solid game, he’s gone from being anonymous to an absolute brute in a week. Long may that continue.

… and say it quietly, Xhaka did a very solid job. Bournemouth are perfect opposition for him, but still, his pass completion was 94% and there was some ambition to his play. Shite defensively and not suited to the league, but you have to give praise where deserved. Word has it he still wants to leave to go to Berlin and I really couldn’t care less, as long as we have a replacement lined up.

So overall, a shite result, but plenty that points to a brighter future. This season might be a write-off (I hope it’s not) but we should start winning if we continue creating that many good opportunities… it’s a promising start. The players responded well to the new demands and the early signs are that Arteta has a good vision of what he wants to do, with the authority to get it done.

I went hard on Emery who couldn’t create an identity in his first 4 months (or ever), many thought I was unfair for this. I personally believe any coach worth a sausage will have his players showing serious signs of their ideas within 3 months. I will stand by that view with Arteta. It’ll take longer for results, because we’ll need better players, but this is a good coach who will take us to a far higher level than Emery or latter years Wenger could. I think we’ll see good things this season, even from these players. I am still excited. You should be too.

Onwards and upwards, a very messy Chelsea next, could be a good home debut for Mikel.

See you there!

575 Responses to “Mikel starts with a draw, but lots of positives on show”

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  1. DM

    I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised with our performance yesterday. Particularly the first half (until they scored), we had proper aggression and urgency, and kept our passing short and precise. It’s clear Arteta’s vision is being listened to, at least, and the players are buying into it and trying. It’s going to take a while before we see the realisation of it, but for the time being, an improvement on week-by-week basis is the most important thing.

    I’ve just finished watching All or Nothing: Manchester City on Amazon Prime. If you haven’t seen it, do so right away. What an amazing insight it provides into the behind the scenes of one of the most successful clubs in the world, with probably the greatest manager. And Arteta features quite a lot in it – it’s really made me excited for what he might be able to offer.

  2. TheLegendaryDB10

    Good post Pedro.

    I also believe that we’ll finally see a pattern as time goes buy by the end of the season.

    I just think that we are getting ahead of ourselves. It’s only Arteta’s first game.

    Let’s see what he does before losing our heads!

  3. Major_Jeneral

    So many positives in my opinion, it will only get better.
    If Martinelli is fit, it wil take a while before lacazette can be a regular starter.

  4. HighburyLegend

    “and say it quietly, Xhaka did a very solid job.”
    Pretty normal, under a manager who has Sauce and who LOVE him.

    ” I will stand by that view with Arteta. ”
    This one made me laugh hard.

    We should destroy Chelsea at home without any problem… if we don’t, I’ll be seriously pissed off.

  5. Jeff

    The opening post just writes itself these days when you’re pushing a well-trodden narrative. “the team showed far more fight than they have in a long time” and for that we should be eternally grateful and it’s all down to Arteta. The chosen one. The Messiah. The Second Coming. Pure comedy.

  6. Valentin

    Yes a lot of positive.
    Better attitude, better organisation.
    The only bad part was our shooting which was extremely poor. Kept overshooting when under no pressure.
    A friend of mine jokingly mentioned to me that maybe the reasons why all our players kept overshooting was either too much frustration energy from Arteta like Pep banning them from having sex or some deflategate.

  7. Rich

    This blogger will now be even more insufferable, just blog after blog of looking to confirm his biases.

    Looking for any excuse to confirm to us he isn’t wrong, and any signs that he might be right, however small the signals.

    He writes well, but he’s just a jumped up little twerp, who’s very good at passing his opinions off as facts.

  8. TheLegendaryDB10

    Just watched our game on MotD.

    Liked that we were indeed attacking well at the start from the best of reel shown.

    Laca should have scored that 1-on-1.

    Liked what Arteta said post-match about how it will all be about progressing step by step. Let’s see if he can put his money where his mouth is.

  9. CG

    Great post and fair assessment of the game yesterday…..many thanks.

    An All round better performance.
    Well done.
    Pay Rises to be forthcoming .

    But please lets not forget Bournemouth are filfth- and we are now only 6 points from the Relegation Zone.

    They are also injury ravaged- so making some pretty passing angles against this lot is hardly surprising.

    (And lost to Burnley in their last home game.)

    Artetas test are the next 2 games.
    Home games against stellar names

    Let’s see if he can negotiate them?
    If he does that – then we might well have The Real Deal.

    As for Pepe.
    If Raul bought him- his job is untenable.
    Plain and Simple.

    Who actually scouted him?
    Did anyone scout him?
    If so how many games was he watched.?

    The deal stinks.
    Another 72 million, Down The Drain.

    What chance has any manager let alone a potentially promising one like Arteta have when there is such incompetence in the decision making at the club.?

  10. Romford Pele

    Lots of positives yesterday i thought so agreed Pedro.

    Considering Arteta hasonly had 2/3 sessions, there were a lot of subtle nuances you can see he’s already trying to implement.

    His use of AMN in build up is very similar to to how Walker is used at City. Acts as another CM in build-up and holds that position when the ball turns over to defend the central areas when the team has counters.

    Improved energy and workrate from the whole side. Let’s see if they can continue it. Arteta said many of them had cramp after the game. With improved intensity, it wouldn’t surprise me to see us pick up more muscular injuries.

    Encouraged definitely. We’ll need moire and we’ll need players to return but it shows you don’t need years to start seeing differences in the make-up.

  11. Emiratesstroller

    Arsenal’s midfield was okay yesterday, and Ozil had by recent performances a
    decent game. However, none of our players in that department are exactly ‘fleet footed’.

    What did change compared with earlier games this season was the more offensive approach to the game.

    However, our defence continues to be poor. It beggars belief that we conceded
    yet another goal in the fashion we did yesterday. Organisationally we are awful.

    The decision not to play Pepe in the starting lineup as suggested by Pedro may be down to poor training, but the fact is he is a superior player to Nelson.

  12. Romford Pele

    Laca was terrible yesterday. Had two/three good opportunities that he should’ve buried. Nelson was wasteful in the final third but it looks like Arteta has taken a liking to him if the end of the match is anything to go by.

    I’m sure the team may look a bit different when everyone is fit.

    Hope you lads all had a good christmas.

  13. Danny

    December 27, 2019 09:39:09
    Rich, you must be new here. If you don’t like the “blogger” then you’ll find loads of other Arsenal blogs that will be happy to take you in.
    Fuckity bye.

  14. sarge

    Agree with pretty much everything you say Pedro. Very encouraged, we looked like a different team, more like our old selves. A lot more purpose to our play, better structure and positioning, more energy and more ambition to our play. We even managed to make a better fist of playing it out from the back.

    Agree Laca was poor. He doesn’t add a great deal beyond striking even when he’s on his game. Won’t be too disappointed if we move him on in the summer. Reiss also looks a bit bantamweight for this league, not to mention his piss poor crossing yesterday. I think it’s clear that Martinelli and Pepe will make a big difference to this starting XI.

  15. habesha gooner

    I am one of those people who didn’t want us to hire arteta. But that game had a lot of positives. What I liked was we were moving the ball faster. At Everton we were moving it at a snail’s pace. There was also a lot of 1 touch passing. We created a lot of space and we should have taken advantage. The final ball and Finishing was lacking. But Still It is early days to judge arteta. Good or Bad we need to wait to make judgement.

  16. CG

    Romford Pepe

    “””””His use of AMN in build up is very similar to to how Walker is used at City””””

    Arteta will soon learn that he ain’t at Man City and nor has a surfeit of £50 000 000 full backs at the club to choose from.

    That is my fear from him
    (But its early days)

    He was actually mimicking Pep – with all those rather unsightly player huddles and cuddles at the end of the game.

    We are The Arsenal
    We dont do Cuddles.

    And nor should we mimick anyone.

    They used to copy us.
    Every club in the land.

  17. Romford Pele

    The positional play is what i was most encouraged by. It’s not rocket science that Torreira excels in the areas just infront of the back four. Arteta used Xhaka to the left which worked well. First half he was breaking lines a lot and a leftie on that side helps to open up the pitch. Obviously we don’t expect to see him here long-term with his quotes but think Arteta will be looking for another high volume passer there.

    Would imagine Martinelli and Pepe will be in when fully fit but it’s always hard to predict with managers. Pepe got clamped badly again. He’s gonna pick up a serious injury soon if referees don’t wise up. I’d imagine he’s not starting at the moment because his intensity off the ball is not what the coaches want because the ability is there. Reiss despite not having as much ability sowed better intensity and workrate both on and off the ball even if his final ball was questionable.

  18. Alexanderhenry

    There were some positives but we desperately need a win.

    Forgive the cliche, but whether we get it luckily or deservedly, we need it.

    We’re at the business end of the season now and the players have to show a bit of fight. Teams aren’t going to allow arteta to bed in and develop his ideas.
    Not at this stage.

  19. Romford Pele

    “There were some positives but we desperately need a win.”

    We had 17 shots on goal, i think we were playing to win. Had Lacazette had shooting boots on we win the game so it’s not like you can accuse them of fighting.

    He also said last week that he knows results are paramount so e’ll be bedding his ideas in slowly.

  20. CG


    “”CG Seasons greetings.Don’t write off Pepe just yet.”””

    Season Greetings Graham, old bean

    Its not just me that is writing Pepe off

    The last 3 managers dont fancy him either.

    If an out of sorts Nelson is being selected over him.

    The debate is closed.
    He is Garbage.

    72 million- down the drain.
    Raul should follow into the gutter too.

  21. Wasi

    So many positives to talk about. Where to start

    Arteta- Good lineup. Wasnt afraid to bin Pepe for Nelson. His tactical intelligence was already on show with all the tweaks he made to Freddie’s 4-2-3-1.
    First was using Amn as an inverted full back. Drifting inwards a la Walker in possession to overload midfield. It was a role well suited to Amn as he himself has stated he sees himself as a midfielder. And tbf he performed his role well as compared to the very poor performances we have become accustomed to. To be noted we had Nelson on the right who was apt at keeping the width and tracking back when required a la City.
    On the left side we had Auba drifting inside which left Saka acres of space to push forward into.
    Then Xhaka would Drop a bit deeper at the left side and dictate play which he did quite well. He consistently found Ozil between the lines and set Saka free on the wing quite a few times.
    Torreira put in a SOLID performance in his preferred position and role which also helped cover Xhaka’s weaknesses allowing both of them to play to their strengths.
    Arteta’s use of Ozil was superb. Very good off the ball movement from him especially in the first half. 4 chances created of which at least 2 should have been converted. Was very much involved in most of our attacks that lead to shots. He pressed well than he has ever but did shy away from 50-50s which tbh is something we cant expect from him now at this stage of his career.
    Overall it was nearly a Tactical masterclass from Arteta in his first game. He used some of Pep’s work and combined it with a 4-2-3-1 as we don’t really have the personnel available to play 4-3-3 rn which probably might be Arteta’s favoured formation.
    The forwards let the team down. Especially Laca. I think he could of easily had a hat-trick. Looked far off the pace. Couldn’t outrun a CB . Didnt really offer much all around. But i do think theres a top player in there. Give him confidence and a bit of luck he will start firing again. Our fanbase turns on a player incredibly fast. Last year’s Fans Player of the year at Arsenal and now majority want him sold for whatever we can get. This season he has had injuries and has had to play second fiddle to an elite striker who started the season in the form of his life. He sulks sometimes but he also shows the Passion we all love.

    Top 4 is still achievable and we are odds on favourite to win the EL. CL is still achievable.
    But its Arteta’s first season so id say have hope instead of expectations. So you might get a surprise come the end of the season but not a disappointment.

  22. Jeff

    I think some of you are waking up to the fact that Arteta didn’t manage to perform a miracle yesterday that you were praying for and are now trying to find an excuse for it. Let me assure you that novices cannot perform miracles. I don’t play Poker but I roughly know the rules. What are my chances of winning even one hand against a set of seasoned professionals sat around me?

    I don’t know how many analogies or metaphors you need to hammer home the point that this isn’t the answer – not by a long chalk.

  23. Spanishdave

    We are very weak in the full back department.
    Bellerin is shot , Tierney is a crock so we need to go shopping.
    There are many solid full backs in the lower teams and in the Championship there’s no need for Jonny foreigners at inflated prices.
    Our forwards are poor, one goal in three matches.

  24. China1

    Pedro I generally agree but not on delivery from saka

    Saka is a winger, good delivery when he does get into positions should be his absolute bread and butter

    If you’re a winger and can’t deliver a cross what are you? Iwobi!

    Just kidding as it was only one match and I don’t judge off single games, but really wingers should be the best crossers in the term. This is bare minimum as a pro footballer surely

  25. Wasi

    The intensity in possession was also a positive.
    You know its the good work on the training ground when Sokratis is playing one touch passes .

    Completely opposite start to Arteta’s reign as compared to Emery’s. We lost a match we should have won.
    I am guilty of being happy watching the game even when we were losing. At least the football is coming back.

  26. Romford Pele

    Wasi, good post. Don’t think top 4 is available via the league though, only EL. Hopefully Arteta continues to hone the style of play over the course of the next 6 months.

  27. Danny

    All this hype about Ozil yesterday, a bit weird in my opinion. To me he looked so past it, like a retired ex-player trying to rekindle days gone by but without succeeding.
    Here’s hoping from Wednesday we start a clear out of Ozil, Xhaka, Mustafi and Bellerin, of course depending on how much cash was promised to Arteta from Josh for replacements.
    Saka and Nelson should spend all day today practicing crosses, theirs were a disaster yesterday.

  28. Ishola70

    “Yesterday torreira was excellent. He broke up play and shielded the defense really well and he played a really disciplined role, rarely pushing forwards”

    He broke up play in front of his own defence and higher up as well.

    One break-up of play was right on the edge of Bournemouth’s own penalty area.

    He was everywhere around the midfield and did have a good match as you say.

    One of the few times he got caught out though was their goal. Gosling got the run on him to score.

  29. Wasi

    I think a good run in the second half of the season and its still possible. Spurs are not what everyone thought theyd become under Mourinho. Lampard’s honeymoon period is over.
    Wolves probably wont be able to keep up in the EL and the PL + cup fixtures with such a small squad.
    Sheffield are playing good football but they dont have enough goals in them and their defence will be found out eventually.
    If we win against Chelsea this weekend we will be only 5 points off of them and the CL spot.

  30. HighburyLegend

    “Xhaka to Berlin is on sky now.”
    That could break Mikel’s heart.

    “They used to copy us.
    Every club in the land.”
    A long time ago… in a galaxy far, far away… (lol)

  31. Romford Pele

    Wasi, to get top 4 in the league we have to be almost flawless through the second half of the season.

    While i’m cautiously optimistic about Arteta he’s still going to have teething problems from now until the end of the season. We can definitely go on a run but for a team who has won 1 in 13 I think it’s a bit unrealistic to expect us to climb over all these teams. Stranger things have happened I guess but I don’t see it.

    My main priority is to continue to imprint the style, improve us positionally and structurally off the ball. Finish as high as possible in the league and take EL seriously.

  32. Guns of Brixton

    Xhaka agrees terms with Hertha Berlin.

    Hope we can shackle him to Summer…

    …. And Rich, this blogger is Pedro who most of us probably started drinking oat milk over and made us brave enough to do so publicly. So if you don’t like him u can go to untold.

  33. Mr Serge

    DM most of us watched all or nothing over a year ago
    I agree it’s excellent
    As for yesterday’s match the green shoots if recovery where there to see thank god

  34. Danny

    From The Sun:
    “the ex-Everton midfielder told Xhaka in private that he can leave the club in the summer”
    If true then maybe that we’ll explain Xhaka’s desire to leave now. Of course after telling us to fuck off he should never have played for us again.

  35. HighburyLegend

    “Xhaka agrees terms with Hertha Berlin.”

    Best Christmas news so far.
    Too bad if it’s only next summer…

  36. Champagne charlie

    “My main priority is to continue to imprint the style, improve us positionally and structurally off the ball. Finish as high as possible in the league and take EL seriously.“


    We take care of that and improve on the implementation of Arteta’s ideas and winning will come. The sooner the better of course to breed more and more confidence.

    Three consecutive games at the Emirates could help us out, but Chelsea and United amongst them. We’d light a bonfire if we pulled off back to back wins there mind.

  37. Romford Pele

    CC, t’ll be tough. Chelsea are having problems at home but away from home they are very strong. Both them and United will look to hit us on the counter where their pace is very strong.

    Our approach to stopping counters will be key while also trying to make sure we create sufficient chances down the other end. Wondering if Chambers comes back in.

  38. Ishola70

    I see the myths are being peddled again regarding Torreira primarily by China1 and Pierre.

    They keep imagining that Torreira was glued to the spot in front of his own defence for most of the match done I would presume to give out that we saw a master class tactical move from Arteta.

    Well Torreira won tackles and put in blocks in front of his own penalty area that is true.

    But he also put tackles in and broke up play higher up in central midfield.

    He also put in a few tackles and broke up play even higher up than central midfield. He actually put in a tackle and broke up play bang right in front of Bournemouth’s own penalty area. He must have got a nose bleed in that play as he was so high up.

    What Torreira did yesterday wasn’t sitting in front of his own defence.

    He did what he had done at Sampdoria which is to hunt the ball. And this can be deep, central or even right on the edge of the opponents own penalty area.

  39. Wasi

    Agree we have to be very good to get into top 4
    Thats why I said to have hope and not expectations.

    Same thought i had. After finally getting a manager who can get a performance out of him he wants to leave. If he plays well against Chelsea and Manu just like he did against Bournemouth what will the club do then. You dont get many chances to bin a player youve always wanted to bin for a reasonable price.

  40. Romford Pele

    “But he also put tackles in and broke up play higher up in central midfield.”

    Our CBs spent most of the game defending on the half way line so this isn’t surprising.

    The aim is to compress the pitch so if the ball turnsover you are in a good position to press and win it back.

  41. Champagne charlie


    Oh no doubt mate, tbh avoiding defeat in both would do a lot for us so I’d take two draws and use it to galvanise the mentality of the players a bit more. Losing games is wank, but you can spin draws as progress to your side and let the snowball develop.

    Re: replacing Xhaka..

    Only bonafide option is a Rabiot loan, failing that it’s a less established player and the output we’d get immediately is questionable. Think the club will demand a high fee for now or tell them it’s a deal for the summer.

  42. Ishola70


    True and this was also down to Bournemouth giving up midfield territory.

    Their tactic was basically to sit very deep, absorb and have very sporadic attacking counters on Arsenal.

  43. habesha gooner

    Romford If we are looking for a like for like replacement Rabiot on loan with an option to buy would be the wisest choice. Can and docoure would also be good of we are looking to replace Xhaka with a more powerful physical player.

  44. Romford Pele

    CC, yeah important not to lose but as Arteta said, we really need to turn the Emirates into a fortress again. It should be the bedrock of us picking up points Unfortunately for Arteta his first two games are as hard as it gets but it would do wonders for confidence if we can get 4 points from the next two home games.

    Rabiot is the name that has been banded about and physically he’s in good nic but I don’t know if he’s a high octane passer like Xhaka.

  45. shaun

    we were definitely moving the ball much quicker and the passing was much better . Think Art may see a bit of sterling in Nelson and with some more concentrated training we may see the player we think is in there but as most people see visually Pepe should be starting that side. Laca well what can you say he had three opportunities that i saw that should have been on target and should defo have one goal out of the chances created , he had a poor game .The defence + Xhaka is a personnel issue as in they need replacing before we see any improvement there. Ozill was playing like we expect and know he can deliver the 2 or three goal scoring opportunities created are what he should be producing every game

  46. Romford Pele

    Ishola, funny you say that cos Howe said in his conference last night that it was hard to know how to prepare cos they’ve never seen Arteta manage. He said they adapted but was surprised with our energy levels. Challenge is obviously is to improve on this going forward. We’ll see.

  47. Wasi

    Rabiot doesnt look the same player at Juventus.
    Haven’t really played consistently for some time now stretching back to his time at PSG. If we sell Xhaka we need a ball playing physical player. Or a Physical player apt at carrying the ball through midfield.

  48. Ishola70

    Bournemouth did start the match trying to press higher up but Ozil kept finding space in the pocket between their midfield and defence.

    Because of this Bournemouth retreated deep halfway through the first half and the whole of the second half.

  49. HighburyLegend

    “After finally getting a manager who can get a performance out of him”

    Absolutely priceless.
    Xhaka is now a top player, after only 1 game under Handsome Mikel…
    lol ?

  50. Paulinho

    There is noticeably less pressure now. Under Emery it was this build of toxicity/pressure and the need to get in the top 4. Arteta walks in and it’s go on son, we’re not getting top four, so do what you want. I think that release of pressure explains our more liberated start yesterday (and also Bournemouth giving Ozil way too much space early on).

    As matches go on though, the pressure will build again, angst amongst fans will fester, and let’s see whether this more free-flowing football continues. That’s when we will see how much difference Arteta has really made.

  51. Ishola70

    Romford Pele
    “What are some good athletic players who are good passers from deep too?Ndombele is the archetype for me. Shame he’s at Spurs”

    N’Dombele has a weakness though and probably many won’t see it as such.

    He can overplay, over dribble in midfield and get caught on the ball leading to turnovers for the opposition.

    Good footballer but needs to learn when to release the ball to others more quickly at certain times. Other times his dribbling of course can be an asset.

    Also not sure how good he actually is defensively.

  52. Pierre

    “He also put in a few tackles and broke up play even higher up than central midfield. He actually put in a tackle and broke up play bang right in front of Bournemouth’s own penalty area. He must have got a nose bleed in that play as he was so high up.What Torreira did yesterday wasn’t sitting in front of his own defence.”

    Your understanding ( or misunderstanding)of Torreira’s role doesn’t surprise me.

    Torreira played in the middle of the pitch , never out wide , never in the opposition’s box and was predominately sitting in front of the 2 central defenders to break up the play and offer protection.

    Xhaka’s role was slightly different in that he would often drop into the back 4 when we were in possession the ball to receive the ball , this would allow Saka to overlap and for Xhaka to find Saka in advanced positions.

    This actually worked very well , unfortunately Saka had an off day with his final ball into the box.

  53. Wasi

    No-one suggested he is a top player .
    Arteta just deployed a tactic to allow him to play to his strength and hide his weaknesses. It didn’t transform him into a top player but we definitely got a good performance from him.

  54. Romford Pele

    Ishola, of course but he’s still young and those things can be ironed out.

    Players like Ndombele are massively valuable because they allow you to break opposition blocks and can also be helpful when you’re pressed to alleviate pressure.

    Many players have weaknesses but the right system can help to mitigate against it while accentuating their strengths.

  55. Ishola70


    Xhaka many times drops deep because of his physical limitations.

    Torreira goes hunting for the ball.

    You are falsely putting out that this is something new we are seeing from the team presumably because you want to credit Arteta.

    Well it’s nothing new Pierre.

  56. Pierre

    “Bournemouth did start the match trying to press higher up but Ozil kept finding space in the pocket between their midfield and defence.Because of this Bournemouth retreated deep halfway through the first half and the whole of the second half.”

    I think you’ll find that Bournemouth going one nil up was the time they started to sit deeper as they could then play on the countef.

  57. Pierre

    “Xhaka many times drops deep because of his physical limitations.”

    It was an obvious tactic as he dropped deeper when we were in possession of the ball…

  58. Ishola70


    Bournemouth were very concerned about the space Ozil was getting in the pocket for the first 20 minutes or so.

    They sat deep midway through the first half in central midfield.

    Their goal came from pressing the flank and it was noticeable that their pressing as a whole decreased after the first 20 minutes or so.

  59. Pedro

    Paulinho, kind of ideal conditions for a young progressive coach. Expectations should be low for someone picking up the wreckage of a very average manager that tanked the belief and confidence of a squad mid season.

    Expectations will be top 4 next season. If we’d fired Emery prebreak, he’d have had a far better chance of making that happen this season.

  60. Ishola70

    Xhaka had an overall decent game because he was afforded time on the ball in central midfield.

    Bournemouth gave up that area to Arsenal halfway through the first half.

    We all know Xhaka likes time on the ball.

    Again this is nothing new.

    People just imagining this is some new concept because of Arteta lol

  61. habesha gooner

    From what I saw of him at psg hr is very much a passer first and a ball carrier second. He almost looks like toni kroos in style. I think he could be a mass passer if you instruct him to. He would also have the added bonus of contributing in the final third unlike Xhaka.

  62. habesha gooner

    From what I saw of him at psg he is very much a passer first and a ball carrier second. He almost looks like toni kroos in style. I think he could be a mass passer if you instruct him to. He would also have the added bonus of contributing in the final third unlike Xhaka.

  63. Pierre

    “All this hype about Ozil yesterday, a bit weird in my opinion.”

    He could and should do more in my opinion.

    When he was on the ball he was good , created chances , linked the play well but he needs to demand the ball more as he drifted out of the game

    I would think Arteta will demand more from him in the coming weeks , take a few more risks and be braver on the ball.

  64. Major_Jeneral

    Chelsea have a good form away from home, thus it is crucial the midfielders beware of Kante and mount.
    They will want to make it difficult for the passers-Xhaka or Ozil to play people on the wing. Or the spaces that may be left by the wingbacks(if Chelsea play 3 at the back this will be the case).
    They did this against Spurs pretty well.

  65. KAY Boss

    Ishola, do you have problem with Torreira. Even in your comments, its clear. He might not have sat deep as you alluded but I find it a bit sarcastic from u. No offense though.

    DM, are u saying City is a successful club based on what? Kindly clarify.

    I’m not surprised by the result. It was expected. Vitality Stadium is a place we usually struggle so a point is good though it’ll have been much better with a win. Chelsea’s away form is frightening to us. They tend to play well away from home. Hope we win as one poster alluded to. We desperately need it.

  66. Champagne charlie


    I think Rabiot has that passing element in his locker, only he comes with more of an ability to glide past folk. Idk his current situation at Juve, but I loved him at PSG and he’s long been a player I think would excel in our side. Gorgeous player in full flow, and levels above Xhaka.

    January is a shit period to do prominent transfers so it’s not an easy one to answer as far as what ball-users might be available mid-season. The ones that come to mind you cannot imagine disrupting their seasons and I don’t think there’s value in getting a lesser target for times sake.

    Be interested to see what sort of player Arteta aims to bring in mind you.

  67. Romford Pele

    Xhaka got time on the ball yes. Why? Because Ozil was initially picking up the ball in very dangerous positions behind the defensive line and threading the forwards. Bournemouth didn’t want that anymore so they dropped off. That gives Xhaka more time and space. Essentially they’re going to have to do one or the other. It’s to the benefit of the team.

  68. Romford Pele

    CC, I can’t lie i’ve never been totally enamoured with Rabiot but would obviously give him a chance if he came here.

    It remains to be seen what Arteta chooses. He’s spoken about the need for athleticism and intensity but at the same time needs to balance that with players who are creative and will help break down the deep blocks we will inevitably face.

  69. Major_Jeneral


    That is right. If the fear factor returns(opponents planning for counterattacks rather than playing toe to toe, case in point Brighton at home earlier this season) , indeed we need to have players that can break down deep blocks.

  70. Wasi

    I rated Rabiot very highly too when he was at PSG.
    Specifically I remember a game very well PSG vs Barca . Rabiot completely shut Messi off in that match.
    He has always had that passing and gliding ability in him + good defensive output.

    His time at Juve has not been good though.
    He cant seem to usurp an ageing Matuidi and a young Bentancur. + I saw bits of him against Inter on YT and he was pretty poor imo.

  71. Wasi

    I think Grealish is the type of free 8 who would work very well in a 3 man midfield.
    If Arteta wants a 4-3-3 then Grealish would be a mo brainer. But I cant see him being that effective in a 2 man pivot. Leaves a lot to be desired in the defensive side of the game.

  72. Champagne charlie


    What do you find off-colour about Rabiot?

    Totally agree, a team full of Moussa Sissoko’s isn’t going to do us any favours at all. That’s the point Gambon and myself were making last time out regarding Xhaka, if he’s sold it’s his use of the ball that needs replaced/mitigated in the side or there’s little gained.

    CM was an area Weagle and I covered in the summer over a few chats, both wanting more of a turnover in the engine room because Torreira hadn’t done great, Rambo was off, Elneny pants, Guendouzi young, and Xhaka not entirely suitable. We didn’t bring in the Doucoure type, so losing Xhaka now would need a smart replacement for us to come out the other side with a net gain in the immediate term.

    Personally see it being a summer thing as I’ve said, but wouldn’t surprise me to see him agitate for a move. Strikes me as a proud player that feels hurt by the events of this season, and I think it’s better he goes and rids the side of the negative rod he’s become.

  73. Romford Pele

    Wasi, a three-man midfield of Torreira, Soumare and Grealish would be a nice blend of attributes imo. Athleticism, defensive nous, press-reistant players and final third ability.

  74. gonnerram

    Good Article Pedro.
    I agree with most of your comments. The delivery from wide areas – if it improves marginally then we should have won by 2-3 goals. At this stage I would happily take 2 points from Man U and Chelsea and focus on reset for the remainder of the season. If we can build some form and take it to Europa League by March it will be excellent.

  75. Champagne charlie


    Yea Rabiot at PSG was a delight when I watched him play, love the poise he had and the ability to shield the ball. Just a gifted footballer frankly, maybe a touch questionable upstairs.

    I’ve no comment on his Juve tenure, I don’t watch Italian football much at all but all you’ve said there is a concern.

    But let’s be real, players “available” in Jan aren’t available because they’re the absolute bollocks or playing to their full potential are they? Usually some level of more they’re in, otherwise they’re a bit of an unknown quantity that makes a jump up in performance on a bigger stage.

    What “small sides” are bossing it around Europe? Who’s pulling the strings there?

  76. Paulinho

    “CC, I can’t lie i’ve never been totally enamoured with Rabiot but would obviously give him a chance if he came here.”

    He’s such a nice footballer and can carry the ball so well, yet hits a wall in and around the box. If he had that edge in the final third he would be a real player.

  77. Romford Pele

    CC, Tbh i’m not even totally sure. Just not overly keen on him. I’m open to being changed in terms of opinion though.

    You’re spot on in terms of the need for the right attributes though. You need someone who can break lines from deep. That’s why Spurs were struggling with a Dier-Sissoko pivot. Not enough guile there, hence why Mourinho brought in Winks yesterday. The balance has to be right though.

    Deep passers are key in progressive set-ups so who it’ll be remains to be seen. If Xhaka is going along with Elneny then we need to replace. Maybe Arteta fancies Ceballos, who knows.

  78. Romford Pele

    Paulinho, I trust your opinion on players so if you rate Rabiot i’m open to it. That thing about hitting a wall around the area is similar to Wilshere who was always a good ball carrier to the final third but the execution wasn’t always there.

  79. Wasi

    Sounds nice that midfield. Havent really seen much of Soumare so dont know much other than whats being said and YT clips.
    For me it should be
    Partey at base
    guen/torre Grealish type.
    Depending on the opposition we can switch the personnel.

  80. Major_Jeneral

    I like the idea of Grealish (Premier league experience, and current captain for Aston Villa, good on set pieces too)
    He won’t be cheap though. What is his injury record though.?

  81. Romford Pele

    Wasi,Soumare can play at the base but ore of a B2B midfielder who does it all. Big, physical, great athlete but can play too. If you wanted a pure#6 then Sangare might be better but I still think Torreira can play well now he’s back in his best positions.

  82. Ishola70


    “You’re spot on in terms of the need for the right attributes though. You need someone who can break lines from deep. That’s why Spurs were struggling with a Dier-Sissoko pivot”

    That’s Mourinho all over though isn’t it.

    Over conservative on just a few too many occasions.

  83. Wasi

    Dont get what you mean at the end of your post.
    But if you are asking that if Id take him
    I definitely would but on loan with option to buy.
    Quality player with a lot to prove joining a club in the same situation. Cant go wrong , can it?

  84. Romford Pele

    Grealish is quality. Most fouled player in the PL. Big engine, good dribbler and his output is good as well. Apparently he has a £45m release clause. Probably one for the summer though. Villa’s talisman.

  85. Paulinho

    Romford – Spot on comparison Wilshere. Wilshere, with or without injuries, simply didn’t have a clue when he got to the edge of the box. Usually a hopeful one-two and before trying to buy a free kick by running into someone.

    Rabiot is like a good left-footed more refined, powerful version of Guendouzi. I would take him, or Emre Can, who is a lazy so and so but has power and ability.

  86. Romford Pele

    Ishola – yeah you’re right. You woud’ve thought he’d learn by now. Dier-Sissoko-Alli is a very energetic midfield but not much guile. Alli is a good goalscorer and second striker but not exactly creative.

  87. Romford Pele

    Paulinho – I think Arteta eventually transitions to a 433. Probably not trying to change too much atm. Rabiot as a LCM in a 433 could work well. Allows him to open his body and spray balls wide on tat side.

  88. Champagne charlie

    Just had a browse at some of La Liga’s top performers this season and one of the top ten players statistically is a lad at Villarreal called Anguissa, rated high for defensive actions and passing…

    24 year old Cameroon international plays DM……..on loan from Fulham hahaha

  89. Wasi

    The Soumare dish sounds delicious.

    Just dont know what kind of team Arteta would want to setup.

    If its closer to what Klopp is doing then Soumare or someone like him would be a no brainer.

    If its closer to Pep’s then Id say maybe not. We’ll need a DLP in the mould of Rodri/Fernandinho.
    Two free #8. Players who can make the difference in the final third and are willing to work hard in the defense phase of the game.
    How is Soumare in the final 3rd in your opinion?

    Is he closetlr to a Fernandinho or a Docoure in a deep role?

  90. Champagne charlie


    I was referencing the January window and saying that normally it’s a time for players who are out of sorts looking for a change of scenery. That or relative unknowns who make a step up and blindside the rest eg Eduardo.

    Just wondering what smaller sides (sides we could bully financially mid-season) are performing well?

    And what players are key to those teams?

  91. Paulinho

    Some of Grealish’s dribbling yesterday was superb. He is not afraid to face the opposition with an open stance and it means he can see options left and right.

  92. SurferX

    Agree with most of your post- but, in regard to Xhaka, he was at fault for our first goal- he backed off the bournemouth player all the way into the penalty area- despite have both Luis and Sok behind him covering. It was a shame becuase our press and our counter-press was stronger already- really encouraging.

    All the media has talked up another error playing from the back- but actually our play was good here all game- and in that inciendt it very nearly led to a great counter attack. Either way, if xhaka had attacked the ball instead of allowing the advance into the penalty area, not way that ball comes in so late to gosling.

    Really good performance- though we were unlucky.

  93. habesha gooner

    For me Rabiot’s abilities as a footballer Is not the question. It is his temperament. He had his mom as his agent and people questioned his attitude. Other than that he has no major weaknesses and he is a good player. You don’t get signed by Juve and get linked with Barcelona for a year if you haven’t voted something about you.

  94. Marc

    One of the major selling points about why Arteta was “the” choice for us even though he had no experience of being the main man was his coaching ability. It was referenced several times about how he’d worked one on one with Sterling and made a huge difference to his game.

    After Arteta running a handful of training sessions it’s deemed that Pepe is finished.

    I’m so glad that we haven’t lost the knee jerk reactions on here with Emery.

  95. Wasi

    “Rabiot is like a good left-footed more refined, powerful version of Guendouzi”
    Sounds accurate. Also have similar hair. Is he still the same player he was at PSG tho? I genuinely believed that by now he would be a world class midfielder. His decision making has not been good.
    Went chasing for money at a very young age

  96. Romford Pele

    Wasi, Soumare could play in either set up. Great athletically but can play too. Goals aren’t what you’d have him in the team for though. kante like in his ability to cover the pitch and transition with the ball at his feet. Tall too so he’s good in duels.

  97. China1

    There are so many players around the world – why choose to take a player you think is lazy if we’re supposed to be changing to a team that works hard?

  98. Paulinho

    Jan – Willock, Nelson, ESR, Saka on loan.

    Bring in Demaria Gray, Barkley, Can/Rabiot.

    Ideally spend it all on a Grealish and herald a new era.

  99. Champagne charlie


    His mother is shagging Mendes, the offspring of which will truly be the most satanic football agent going.

  100. Romford Pele

    “Some of Grealish’s dribbling yesterday was superb. He is not afraid to face the opposition with an open stance and it means he can see options left and right.”

    He trusts his technique. Those players that play with their head up at all times. Deceptively quick and powerful too. Because he can go either way it’s very hard to read his movements.

  101. Champagne charlie

    Does anyone think Villa might be tempted to cash in on Grealish in Jan to fund a survival spree?

    Actually.. scratch that, got more pie in the sky as I was writing it haha be nice though.

  102. Paulinho

    Wasi – It’s the lack of a defining quality. He’s not great at tracking back, he doesn’t score goals or assist much, but he is as smooth as silk in transition, and can press pretty well on the front foot being an imposing presence.

  103. Wasi

    Emre Can is lazy?
    Was a starter in his last season for huge portions of the season even though refusing to sign a contract.
    Dont know if Klopp would allow that.

    I NEED to see more of Soumare

  104. azed

    The most interesting thing is what Arteta would do with Ceballos.

    Ceballos is one of those press resistant players but he lacks the pace and defensive nous to play in a two man anchor in our current squad.

    I believe Juventus wants to get rid of Emre Can. He knows the EPL, can carry the ball and pick a pass.
    I think he would be a better option than Rabiot who would have to adjust to the pace of the EPL.

  105. Cesc Appeal

    There were some positives yesterday.

    Arteta has them thinking about tactical pressing, you could hear him shouting at them to ‘go now’ from the touchline and then when to stop and get into shape.

    That said, I really think we should hold off proclaiming our midfield is any better, Bournemouth gave us all the time in the world yesterday in a way Chelsea will certainly not. Xhaka and Ozil had a ridiculous amount of time and space to do whatever they wanted and we know they thrive in that sort of environment.

    Those are the minority of games.

    Still lots of transfer links. Good to hear. The club needs to be proactive and smart in January.

  106. Champagne charlie

    When is Ceballos back?

    That’s a turd I think Arteta could polish, good technician, might work from deep a bit reminiscent of Cazorla.

    Really lightweight midfield centre though if it’s him and Torreira. Could chip them both ffs

  107. Dream10

    Romford & Paulinho

    Rabiot’s signature game for PSG was against Barça in the 1st leg of their most recent CL matchup. Won the ball back and passed the ball both short and long.
    Difficult to see how he will fit us though.
    PSG were a heavily based possession side with three pass merchants in the centre consisting of Motta, Verratti and Rabiot. Sometimes 90 touches each.

    We’re not like that. In the PL, you ball winning, passing and penetration thru the lines. Partey, Guimarães and Grealish would be quality additions to supplement Willock, Guendouzi and Torreira.

  108. Romford Pele

    “The most interesting thing is what Arteta would do with Ceballos.”

    In a 4231 he wouldn’t work in a pivot as it’d be too lightweight and he’s not a #10 eiter. In a 433 I see more scope for him though.

  109. Marc


    “His mother is shagging Mendes, the offspring of which will truly be the most satanic football agent going.”

    It does make you wonder!

  110. Paulinho

    Dream10 – Yeah in terms of press-resistance pass merchants Verrati is elite, and Rabiot is a rung below. Always thought Motta was more a worker than a great technical player though, which that PSG midfield needed with Verratti and Rabiot.

  111. Wasi

    Was literally watching that video before seeing your comment.
    What I learned
    Although all African heritage players are blessed with very good physique this guy is a specimen.
    Very fast, very strong also very agile. Good football education at PSG so also has good technical ability.
    Dont know about his intelligence much , would have to match full games but other than that looks a beast. No wonder he is being linked to clubs for 50m.

    Guimares looks quality. But would need time to adjust to the league imo and this January we are looking for players who can have immediate impact.

  112. Valentin

    Usually Players need 4~6 weeks with a new manager to fully integrate his coaching style, tactical demand. However in his first game in charge we have seen green shoots emerging from the wilderness of Emery left over.

    Hopefully by mid January, the team would have fully assimilated all of Arteta new work ethical and tactical demands.

    The same people who were arguing for Emery to be given further time are now arguing that Arteta should immediately improve the team. Talk about agenda and bad faith argumentation.

    If Emery had been given the boot in the summer, Arteta would have had a full pre-season.

    Even if we buy new players, they will also need time to adapt. Most European countries have a winter break, so the physical conditioning is geared toward that break. The EPL does not, so the adaptation time is even worse than during the summer. That explain why Arteta wants to keep Xhaka until the next summer.